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(2) Sworn statement of W. P. Riddlesbarger relating to the impairment of his health.

(3) Copy of affidavit of Gilson Ross, physician and surgeon dealing with the injury, care, and death of “Billy" Riddlesbarger, son of W. P. Riddlesbarger.

(4) Copy of House bill No. 294, passed in the fortieth legislative assembly, regular session, State of Oregon. There are no available transcripts of committee hearings pertaining to the consideration and passage of House bill No. 294. The only committee report made was a simple "do pass” report.

(5) Affidavit of W. P. Riddlesbarger, reciting the facts relating to the injury suffered by his son “Billy” Riddlesbarger.

We are advised that a large number of original affidavits, statements, and other material bearing on this case were transmitted to Congressman Mott, and are doubtless now either in Mr. Mott's possession or in the possession of the committee in charge of House Resolution 6095. Copies of these documents, however, are not procurable here.

We trust that the material and information herewith furnished will adequately serve your needs. Very truly yours,

E. J. GRIFFITH, State Administrator.


Being duly sworn, I hereby depose and say:

I am a regularly licensed physician practicing in Eugene, Oreg., and have been the regular medical attendant of W. P. Riddlesbarger and his family since 1932. I am familiar with the facts surrounding the injury of W. P. Riddlesbarger's son "Billy" which occurred February 26, 1938, and with the subsequent course resulting in Billy's death and with the effects of this tragedy on the parents of this child afterward, especially upon Mr. Riddlesbarger.

I can and hereby do certify that prior to Billy's death and injury that Mr. Riddlesbarger had been in good health and had required no medical attention. I certify that as a result of the grief over the loss of this only son that Mr. Riddlesbarger developed an acute emotional tension state which, for a time, actually threatened his sanity; further, that it was necessary for Mr. Riddlesbarger to have close medical supervision for several months following the death of his son in order to bring about a reasonable recovery from the effects of this emotional shock. I certify that he is still requiring medical attention for the same reason.

Carl H. PHETTEPLACE, M. D., Deponent. Subscribed and sworn before me this 26th day of May 1939 in the city of Eugene, county of Lane, State of Oregon. (SEAL


Notary Public for the State of Oregon. My commission expires December 29, 1942.

I, W. P. Riddlesbarger, after being first duly sworn do depose and say:

That prior to February 26, 1938, I was in normal health and that at no time theretofor had I suffered by reason of nervousness, tension, or other form of psychological, emotional, or mental shock of an unusual nature; that during such time I did not ask any physician, or any other person for advice pertaining to, or treatment of such disorders.

That shortly after said date, I did consult Dr. Carl Phetteplace, of Eugene, Oreg., with respect to what I thought were organic disturbances. Physical examinations were given me by him. He diagnosed my case as one of emotional shock resulting in a functional disorder, which came about as a consequence of the death of my son on May 15, 1938. The symptoms of which I complained consisted of backaches, palpitation of the heart, difficulty in breathing, and a dreadful apprehensive feeling. His treatment consisted of talks in which he assured me that there were no organic difficulties, and that an emotional as well as an intellectual understanding of my condition was necessary to my cure.

At times I have felt fairly free from tension and nervousness, only to be followed by “spells" when it becomes necessary to call a doctor and go over it all again. Recently a terrible pressure in my head has been cause of recurring alarm.

Dr. Phetteplace had at one time told me that perhaps it would be advisable to obtain the opinion of the best medical authority available as to my physical condition. Sometime in August, I went to Dr. Lawrence Selling, of the Portland Clinic, Portland, Oreg., for examination. After a very thorough physical examination, including a pylogram, and electrocardigram, Dr. Selling diagnosed my case as one of anxiety tension. He required me to see him every other day, for a time, and once a week thereafter for a period of about 2 months. Since then except for an occasional trip to Portland, I have been under the care of Dr. Phetteplace, who cooperates with Dr. Selling.

That there has been improvement in my condition since that time, in that though I am never free from tension even during sleep, I have learned to live with it for the most part, with spells occurring only once in 2 or 3 weeks, from which I get relief in shorter time than formerly.

That as recently as last week, during a drive to Corvallis, Oreg. some 40 miles from Eugene, I became so nervous and tense that I was absolutely unable to continue driving. A guest in the car had to drive on the trip after the first 15 miles. Frequently, I have gone to the golf links to play golf, only to find it necessary to give it up because of inability to overcome tension, palpitation, and fear from the exertion.

That during the past year I have continued my school work as assistant professor of business administration in the University of Oregon under severe handicap due to these same causes.

That I attempted to obtain life insurance since December 1938 and was postponed by Teachers' Annuity, Prudential, Paul Revere, and was rejected by Metropolitan Life, for the stated reason that though my physical examinations were satisfactory, my nervous disorder as shown by medical history made such action necessary. I did eventually obtain a policy from New York Life, with waiver of premium, and disability benefits excepted though applied for.

That in my opinion, an exceptionally close and affectionate relationship with my son, Billie, caused his sudden loss to make such a profound effect upon me.

W. P. RIDDLESBARGER, Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 26th day of May 1939, in Eugene, Oreg. (SEAL)


Notary Public for the State of Oregon. My commission expires December 29, 1942.


Portland, Oreg., May 17, 1939. Mr. William E. LINDEN, General Counsel, Works Progress Administration,

Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. LINDEN: Please refer to your letter of May 15 with which you enclosed House Resolution 6095, introduced by Congressman Mott, for the relief of Wilbur P. Riddlesbarger and Josephine Riddlesbarger.

There is enclosed herewith for your information the following:

(1) Copy of letter of April 3, 1939, from D. T. Bayly, attorney at law, Eugene, Oreg., to the Works Progress Administration of Oregon, requesting statement to the effect that the Works Progress Administration was engaged on a project at the time and place of the alleged accident and giving the names of Works Progress Administration officials in charge of said project.

(2) Copy of our letter of April 22, 1939, addressed to Mr. Bayly in reply to his letter of April 3.

(3) Copy of affidavit furnished by Victor H. Todd, our resident engineer.

You will note that it is indicated in the second paragraph of our letter of April 22 listed above that the Works Progress Administration knew nothing of the alleged accident until approximately a week after it was supposed to have occurred, and the report to us at that time was to the effect that a boy had climbed through the barricades, etc. Since we were not advised of the alleged accident until approximately a week after it was supposed to have happened, there was no way for us to make any further investigation.

While we have no direct evidence in our possession that an accident did occur as alleged, it is an admitted fact that we were engaged in a sewer-trench excavation at the place of the alleged accident and at the time it was supposed to have occurred. However, the statement contained in House Resolution 6095, line 11, to the effect that a ditch was left unguarded is not in harmony with our records, which indicate that the open trench was protected by barricades on both sides. Such indirect evidence as we do have indicates that the boy deliberately climbed through the barricades.

While the information herein furnished is not as complete or as conclusive as might be desired, we trust it will serve your needs. Yours very truly,

E. J. GRIFFITH, State Administrator.


Sometime in the latter part of January, or the early part of February, 1938, a Works Progress Administration project, sponsored by the University of Oregon, involving the digging of a ditch was started in the alley just north of the heating plant of the university. A portion of the ditch was eventually dug in the public alley running north and south between Thirteenth and Fourteenth Streets, and between Emerald and Onyx Streets in Eugene, Lane County, Oreg.

Immediately prior to the digging of this portion of the ditch, I was informed by Felix Grupp, Works Progress Administration foreman in charge of the crew of men, that it would be impossible for me to get into my garage, which could be reached only by way of said alley, until the work was completed.

On February 26, 1938, I lived with my family at 1310 Emerald Street. That property runs to the above-described alley. I rented a garage from Mrs. Watts, which garage was on the back portion of her lot and immediately adjacent to the said alley.

At said time, the ditch was in the process of construction, therefore of varying depths. The general layout is shown by pictures and diagram on page 2 of this affidavit. The pictures were taken approximately 3 weeks after the accident herein described. They and the diagram are used to better show the circumstances of the ditch and surroundings (diagram not printed).

As shown by picture No. 1, the ditch was dug in units with tunnels connecting these units. A path was maintained along the edge of the ditch. This ditch varied in depth from 16 to 6 feet, depending upon its state of completion. Dirt had been thrown on the west side of the ditch as shown by the picture, No. 1, at the time of the accident. The piles of dirt on the east side of the ditch were approximately one-half the height shown on the right side of the picture. On February 26, 1938, the car shown in the picture to be on the east side of the ditch was not at that location, but was away from the edge of the alley and under the branches of the tree shown. This car was a stolen car which had apparently been left on the back of the Yocom property by the thief. At the said date, therefore, there was a space of approximately 10 to 12 feet into which the car was later placed, but which at the time of the accident was not in that space, in which there was no pile of dirt, and beside which there was no fence or other structure, which guarded the ditch at that point. At this point the ditch was approximately 14 feet deep. After the car was moved into the place where it was shown by the picture, there was a space between it and the garage of about 2 feet and on the other side of the car, the pile of dirt shown came to about 2 feet from the edge of the car. Quite naturally dirt and rocks were not piled on

As shown by picture No. 1 at the north end of the ditch entrance to the path and to the ditch was barred by an ordinary sawhorse. This sawhorse was not fastened in any way and was easily moved out of place. At the time of the accident the small fence shown to the left of the sawhorse was not there. Instead, the pile of dirt on that side extended to the edge of the sawhorse. This difference was due to the fact that at the time of the accident, a 16-foot-deep ditch was open beside the first telephone pole north of the sawhorse. At the time of the picture, that ditch had been filled in. When the dirt was thus removed the fence here shown was put up.

Calling attention to picture No. 2 briefly, it shows the place into which my son fell, and just barely shows a gate opening into the yard of the Long-Nelson home which was not a locked gate, nor, as can be seen, was there any guard to keep one coming through the gate from stepping into the ditch. In fact, it was through this gate that affiant Carlos Long went to and from school and through which my boy went after having got out of the ditch at the time of the accident.

the car.

One other physical fact needs to be noted with reference to picture No. 2. The short pieces of 4 by 4's used to hold the planks in place along the sides of the ditch walls formed a ladder by means of which my son climbed out when injured.

As told me by my son, Wilbur Paul, aged 8 years at the time of the accident, he, together with another boy of same age, and another boy aged 4, were playing in front of my home (see diagram p. 2 herein (not printed)) about 2 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, February 26, 1938. My daughter, Susan, aged 5, was coming out the front door, so the three boys ran to hide from her. They ran to the back of our house, over the path back of the Watts home (marked by red lines on diagram on p. 2 herein), around the garage and along the path along the west edge of the ditch. Wilbur, my son, apparently stumbled over a 2 by 4, about a foot long lying in the path, and fell head first into the ditch. Inasmuch as it was Saturday, no workmen were around. At that time I was in my office on the campus. My wife was in bed, ill. A hired woman was in our home doing housework.

The screams of other children brought a college student, Carlos Long, who found my son walking away from the ditch in Nelson's back yard. When brought to our home, Wilbur was unconscious. Long took him to the infirmary on the campus, at Fourteenth and Onyx. I was called, and inasmuch as no doctor was available at the infirmary, Long got his car and took Billy and me to town, where we went immediately to the office of Dr. Carl Phetteplace in the Miner Building. The latter said that due to Billy's condition he would set the arm without benefit of X-ray: that on Monday he should be brought in for an X-ray picture. This was done. The picture showed that all the bones had not been brought together. Dr. Phetteplace told me that the break was so bad, and that Dr. Gilson Ross was more experienced in bone cases, and asked that the case be turned over to him. To this I assented. The arm had swollen considerably and was covered with blisters. These Dr. Ross treated for about 6 days. On March 8, 1938, the arm was reset by Dr. Ross with Dr. Phetteplace at the Sacred Heart Hospital. Several weeks later an abscess formed from the blood clot at the elbow. Dr. Ross administered an anesthetic and fully opened the pus pockets leaving an opening in the arm for drainage.

Everything seemed to be going nicely. Billy returned to school around the first of May. On May 13, after an X-ray disclosed that the bones had grown together, Dr. Ross advised that it would be necessary to straighten the arm, which had grown etiff in a bent position. On May 14, 1938, the arm was operated upon. That night Billy became irrational. The next day he was worse, and at about 4 p. m., May 15, 1938, he died in the Sacred Heart Hospital, Drs. Ross, Chapman, and Romig in attendance.

At all times prior to the accident, Billy was in excellent health, except for ordinary colds, measles which he had about 4 years ago, and the removal of tonsils and adenoids about 1934. He was an unusually active boy and better than the average in his school work. He was in the second grade of school.

When he assumed office, in March 1938, President Donald Erb called me in and told me that he had investigated the case, and that he had ordered the ditch to be safeguarded (gratings were eventually put over them for their entire length), and that he wanted to do something for me in the way of compensating for expenses, that there was no legal way by which he could at that time think to do so, but that he would do what he could. The matter was left at that until Billy died. Some time later a specially thought up job was suggested as means of compensating, but nothing was done. I was advised that an attempt to gain the passage of a bill in the State legislature might be the best way to settle the matter.

This was done. At a hearing before the ways and means committee, Senator Strayer stated that in his opinion the Federal Government seemed to be principally responsible, that he would favor granting a claim for expenses merely. Senator Dean Walker was of the same opinion. The committee reported the bill (H. B. 294) favorably, and it was subsequently passed by both houses, and only recently signed by the Governor. The bill becomes a law 90 days after the close of the session, since no emergency clause was included. It appropriates $763 for all expenses incident to the injury to my son, his care, and funeral,

Since the death of my son, I have been in ill health continuously. I have been under the care of Dr. Phetteplace and of the Portland Clinic, especially Dr. Selling. The latter calls my case one of anxiety tension. Naturally, doctor bills are mounting. My wife is suffering from the same thing and she, also, has been under the care of these named doctors. Four insurance companies have postponed my applications for policies of life insurance. In all cases the reason ascribed was the medical history showing this nervous disorder.



County of Lane, 88: I, W. P. Riddlesbarger, being first duly sworn, on oath say that the statements contained in the foregoing affidavit are true as I verily believe.

W. P. RIDDLESBARGER. Subscribed and sworn to before me this 31st day of March 1939. (SEALT


Notary Public for Oregon. My commission expires March 6, 1941.


Eugene, January 30, 1939. The Honorable Angus Gibson,

House of Representatives, Salem, Oreg. DEAR Mr. Gibson: At the request of Mr. W. P. Riddlesbarger, assistant professor in the school of business administration at the University of Oregon, I am writing this letter. Mr. Riddlesbarger, I believe, is introducing a bill in the legislature today providing for the recompense of himself for expenses attendant upon the injury and subsequent death his son. I want to tell you briefly what I know of the case and the part that I have played in it.

On February 26, 1938, the boy, who was 8 years old, fell into a ditch which was being dug in the alley behind the Riddlesbarger home on Emerald Street in Eugene. I heard about this unfortunate accident immediately upon my assumption of this office, which occurred on March 1, 1938. The ditch was being dug as part of a tunnel system joining together various university buildings and providing for the efficient underground carrying of steam, water, sewer, and electric lines. The work was being done under a Works Progress Administration project which the University of Oregon was sponsoring. The ditch was a deep one and the boy fell in with such force, evidently, that he very seriously broke his arm. So serious was the break that the physicians who worked on the case had great difficulty in setting the arm and repairing the torn flesh and ligaments. I believe the arm was put in a cast and there it remained for some weeks, until it was safe to remove the cast. The injury was so serious that everyone was much worried about the boy, but he seemed to be coming along all right.

After the 'ast was removed, it was found that the arm was not straight and that unless it was rebroken and reset the boy would always have a disfigured and stiff arm, which would seriously impair its free use. As a consequence, after consultation with physicians, it was decided to operate and reset the arm. This operation was performed and almost immediately thereafter, on May 15, 1938, the boy died from complications which set in, the complications being, I believe, the lodging of a blood clot in the brain.

From the very beginning there was a question as to whether or not due care had been exercised by the Works Progress Administration and its foreman, by the city of Eugene building inspectors, and by the physical plant department of the University in barricading and guarding the ditch so that persons could not fall into the ditch. On this point there was conflicting testimony. The testimony is so conflicting that I have been advised that the fixing of legal responsibility could not be made sufficiently clear to justify any court action. However, I am no lawyer and am not competent, therefore, to speak on this point.

There is another matter on which I am competent to speak. I have known Professor Riddlesbarger ever since he was transferred to the university from Oregon State College about 1932. He has never had a high salary. As a matter of fact, his salary when he came here was about $2,000. At the present time it is $2,800. He has had an aged and infirm father to support, a brother to help put through the university, and he and his family have had one serious illness after another ever since coming here. I have never known a family to have more tragic bad luck in the space of 6 years than this one. Through it all they have been good soldiers. They have not complained and they have done their best to pay off their staggering bills and act like good citizens. Moreover, Professor Riddlesbarger, in spite of all of his troubles, has done a fine job for us on the faculty, has continued his training and professional advancement until he is one of our most competent faculty members. He is a very fine teacher and a thoroughly admirable man. I have known him well enough and have known enough of his difficulties that when this last agonizing series of events hit him, I was deeply moved.

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